The fox is an efficient and clever hunter with the capability to dig and maneuver through very small spaces. With little effort, a fox can chew through chicken wire and open latches that are of simple operation. Factory made coops often have both lightweight wire and flimsy latches which are merely an invitation to dinner for a fox.
Fox are mostly nocturnal animals, so your chickens are most at risk at night, unfortunately, when you’re sleeping. However, a hungry fox who knows chickens are free ranging during the day, will hunt then.
They’re smart and patient, they will watch your coop for weeks before they attack. Every bird the fox can grab in the coop will be killed, often the entire flock will be completely wiped out. They’ll take as many birds from the coop with them. I think I have your attention now, so here’s what you can do to help protect your flock…
How to Fox Proof the Chicken Coop
A wire floor secured to the coop frame will prevent fox from burrowing under the coop. You can get wire that has bigger holes so your chickens can still scratch in the dirt. If that’s not possible, attach a wire skirt around the coop so that a fox can’t dig or burrow near the coop. However, this means you won’t be able to move your coop.
Enclose the coop with heavy gauge wire and make sure there are no gaps in the corners, around doors, or where the sides meet the roof.
Put two sturdy latches on the coop door, or use a lock.
If there access to the nest box make sure it’s locked at night.
Building or Buying a Coop?
Ideal housing for chickens where predators are a problem (which iseverywhere) is a ventilated shed or structure with solid walls and a floor for overnight. An attached covered pen with heavy gauge wire and perimeter wire skirting for daytime use.
Suggestions to Help Keep Fox Away
Sensor lights near the coop are a help keeping away fox, you can easily buy solar and put them low to the ground.
Motion sprinklers near the coop are another option, predators are startled by water.
Six Common Predators and the Clues Left Behind After an Attack
Coyotes will either tunnel or muscle their way into a coop. They’re smart, staking out the premises first to learn when the ideal time is to attack. A coyote is most likely to be seen at dawn and dusk, however, broad daylight attacks are not unheard of. Keep in mind coyotes are very active at night, and they can easily scale a 6 foot fence. When a coyote gains access to a chicken coop they’re known to kill all the birds, then taking a couple with them. Signs a Coyote Leaves Behind After an Attack Birds missing. Necks broken. Feathers scattered everywhere in the coop.
Clever as a fox, a saying we’ve all heard, and it couldn’t be more true. They climb better than you could ever imagine and can dig their way into a coop with ease. Fox are smart and patient, they will watch your coop for weeks before they attack. Every bird the fox can grab in the coop will be killed, often the entire flock will be completely wiped out. They’ll take as many birds from coop they can with them. Signs a Fox Leaves Behind After an Attack Many birds missing Feathers sprawled in the coop AND away from the coop Broken necks
These smart egg stealing masked burglars leave significant evidence of their presence. A raccoon rips open the crop and sometimes the breast to feast. You’ll find all the chickens still in the coop as a rule because coons have difficulty carrying them off. One of the raccoon’s most distinctive features are their extremely dexterous front paws, in other words, they’re extremely talented at opening door latches! Signs a Raccoon Leaves Behind After an Attack Rips open the crop and sometimes the breast. Dead chickens will most likely be left in the coop.
This little critter is after your chicks and eggs. That’s his primary agenda, but it may go after a small adult chicken at times. The opossum gains access usually through a small opening in the coop Signs an Opossum Leaves Behind After an Attack Doesn’t take birds from the coop. Tears open the abdomen. Interesting Fact: The opossum is a Marsupial. The adult females have a marsupium, or pouch where they keep their young while they grow up. Cool
These predators usually attack when chickens are free roaming during the day. Hawks, like the fox and coyote are well prepared for their attack by staking out the premises beforehand. There’s no mistaking the evidence of a chicken attacked by a hawk, the signs are quite different from all other predators. Sharp talons and beaks are extremely effective in killing or injuring multiple birds. Signs the Hawk Leaves Behind After an Attack Some birds will be missing. Some injured birds will appear to be cut up. Injuries look as though chickens were stabbed with a knife.
Owls attack similar to the Hawk. They also stake out the potential of a meal by watching the chickens for a spell before they attack. Hawk or Owl? It’s not entirely impossible to tell the difference between a hawk and owl attack. Raptors usually poop when they kill, fortunately the poop of an owl and hawk are slightly different. You’ll find their poop near the feathers of the victim. Owl: White streak with clumps Hawk: Just a white streak Signs an Owl Leaves Behind After an Attack Neck and head eaten. Deep knife looking cuts on the abdomen.